Pilgrimage

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Indian man on a pilgrimage [title of the photo, which Ross took during our trip to India in 2005]

Pilgrimage: a voyage of devotion and penitence towards the sacred places of every religion.

Sitting for hours in front of the computer.

I’m waiting for a great idea for some logical thread or thesis to follow, to write an excellent admissions essay, to arrive from this sad, gray sky.

For months I have decided to hide, at least from the fotolog community, my intention, if circumstances permit, to do a school year out of the country, and I have never explained my reasons for “wanting to participate in this program and attend an international, multicultural and multireligions school in India” – which I need to [explain] by tomorrow and, of course, I have waited right up to the deadline to do it.

So, why go?

Why leave a decidedly comfortable life which gives me, with little or no effort on my part, everything I need and many things I could just as well do without, but still leaves me unsatisfied, with a constant sensation of incompleteness?

Why say goodbye – for a not-short time – to the friends I depend upon, the lifestyle I’m used to, my habits, vices, tastes, caprices, constructive pains, infinite gossip, hysterical laughter, frustrated crying, and the long list of unconnected things that come to mind when I think about HOW I LIVE.

The harder list to make, however, is the things I will have to get used to if I go, and the list of what I hope and expect to gain:

I wouldn’t have the same freedom, but – freedom to do what, anyway?

I would have to learn to be independent in a very different way from how I am now. This would no longer mean coming home when I feel like it Saturday night, feeling adult because I got drunk and went to the disco.

I would have to live with habits and customs completely different from those of Lecco, substituting rice for pasta, H&M with the local tailor, and things like that.

It will no longer be an option to leave all my clothes on the floor until they form a mountain that takes on a life of its own and becomes an independent being (seriously, my clothes will soon open their own fotolog: fotolog.com/wevebeenonthefloorforayear).

[Many other things] will no longer be an option (alcohol, smoking, immoral sex – what “immoral” means I don’t yet know!)

But I still haven’t given my reasons [for wanting to go]:

I’ve already visited India. Thinking about it brings back those sensations that I feel when I watch a documentary or hear ethnic music in the waiting room at the beauty shop: the strumming of the sitar carries me back to the heat, the spicy odor in the air, the brown faces with huge black eyes that I’d like to photograph, one by one, I’m so moved by their beauty. It carries me back to lime water, to the streets full of cars from several epochs ago, side by side with rickshaws magically pedalled by very skinny legs. To how I wanted to cry the first times that the children, seeing white people, surrounded them like ants on a crumb.

It’s difficult if not impossible to explain in words this desire to run away, because in the end it would mean running away in the hopes of finding a better life when I return. It may be that I have it in my blood. I’m resigned to the fact that, even if I had never spoken of India with my mother, the desire to go would have started pulsing in my veins sooner or later.

Writing this essay is like waiting for a flight to board, when with a thousand books and magazines I try to calm myself and hide the fact that I’m jumping out of my skin with curiosity and excitement to go to a land other than my own, and explore it in all its aspects. I am excited about the world because it’s international, multicultural, and multireligious.

Why not take a risk – risk not having everything, not living comfortably, risk seeing sad, ugly things and then crying from the joy of having been so fortunate as to feel an emotion so strong?

Why not say goodbye to the people who love me, knowing that, if they really do love me, distance and time will be irrelevant; to search for different people, perhaps more like myself, who will understand exactly what I’ve gone through, once everything is done and I return home with one more huge suitcase / new “baggage”.

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